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Today’s Puzzle

Before getting to last week’s meta puzzle write-up, here’s a fresh 72-word themeless for you. My favorite clues are at 26- and 53-Across. I like the one for 5-Down too, if only because I have a bizarre fascination with the being referenced in it. Mini-spoiler alert approaching (you’ve been warned)! If you’ve been following the news lately, or you solve Peter Gordon‘s Fireball Newsflash Crosswords, then you’ve got yourself a good ol’ gimme right at the top. I should’ve realized that this could have happened, so…. **insert emoji of me shaking a fist at Peter for scooping me by one day**. But, I got a tiny bit of scoopage of my own at 6-Down! I was surprised as I hadn’t realized it happened so recently.

Update, 7/11/15 @ 11:25 am ET: I added four words to the end of the clue for 38-Across. The original clue wasn’t wrong, but I wanted it to be a tad more specific.

Contest Results for “In the Name of the Father”


Last week’s America-themed meta with a flag-shaped grid asked solvers to find one of the nation’s Founding Fathers. The theme answers were wacky phrases that were one letter off of the names of actual Founding Fathers:


The “wrong” letters in the theme entries spell WOGOEID, which is nonsense. But the correct letters in the Founding Fathers’ names, read in order, spell out the name of the meta answer found by 98 solvers: (James) MADISON.

Solver Comments:

John L. Wilson writes:

Probably not a good sign that I wasn’t familiar with some of the pre-pun theme answers, though it fits with the 2 I got on the AP American History exam decades ago.

Hey, I’ll confess that I don’t think I remembered founders like WILLIAM LIVINGSTON or JAMES WILSON …. and I’ve been to history graduate school! Recently, even.

Pete Rimkus writes:

Thx … or as you would say:

“Mr. Costanza is bathing over there”
“Mr. Stamos, tell those flashers to stop”
“Mr. Fielding, do that macrame now!”

It took me a little while to figure these out! Can you get ’em?

David Reiman suggested three clues for the meta answer:

“E.L., it’s your favorite Michael Jackson song!”
“Miss Etta, satirical magazines are all the rage”
An emoji of an angry LeBron?

Hmm, the “wrong” letters spell BIC and the “right” letters spell MOS. Perhaps it’s a coded message about the pen David used to solve the puzzle, or that he likes the rapper Mos Def?

Several solvers poked fun at the fact that I wrote a relatively benign clue for JOHN HAD COCK (the clue was [“Mr. Madden enjoyed some rooster for dinner”?]). I debated this one for a while before publication since the answer basically screams raunchy, and of course I love to titter at the raunchy. But the reason I chose the “safe” route here was because I was concerned that an R-rated clue might come across as ridiculing the idea of gay sexuality. That would never have been my intention with a dirty clue, but I still worried that solvers would interpret it as such. Better to be safe than sorry in this situation, I figured.

With that in mind, Andy Keller writes:

I was solving with my dad and my 12-year-old so I appreciate the G-rated clue [for JOHN HAD COCK].

Ah, so then my clue for SIT at 31-Across [With “down and shut the fuck up”, take a chair] was totally appropriate!

Finally, I wanted to share an excerpt from one of the nicest e-mails I’ve ever gotten since I began Devil Cross. Bea McClain writes:

I’ve never really had a reason to write you before – but I’ve thought about it, to tell you that I really enjoy your puzzles – which I actually think *is* a reason, esp. for an Indie constructor, and esp. especially one who provides their puzzles gratis. I’ve actually thought about writing all of y’all (I’m a bona fide Southerner) who invite feedback, but being a shy person, I guess I need more of a reason than that. And this is the first puzzle contest I’ve entered, but most of them are Metas, I think, and those are totally beyond me. I didn’t expect to get this one … (This is assuming, of course, that I figured it out correctly.)

Also, btw, I do enjoy the work of all the Indie xword constructors who provide free puzzles online, but you *are* one of my favorites. ( I intended to tell you this if I ever wrote just to say ‘thank you’.)

She got it right! Congrats on your first correct meta solve, Bea, and thank you for the kind words. As always, much love to the other indie constructors out there — they’re the ones who got me into this.

Contest Winner:

The winner of the contest, randomly selected from all 98 correct answers, is Jeffrey Harris, a.k.a. the meta-solving master JanglerNPL. He’ll receive some stuff — either a puzzle book, or a small trinket from my Florida vacation, or something of equal or lesser Devil Cross value. We haven’t yet settled on a prize yet, but it will indeed be Stuff.